Friday, March 27, 2015

Just Write class taught by Karen Paul Holmes

Important message to my writing students and fellow writers, 

Many of you have asked me about writing classes, when am I going to teach again and can I suggest a class. It is not likely that I will ever teach again although I want that more than anything. I still work with writers privately. The good news here is that I am suggesting an excellent week long writing class, at John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC, JUST WRITE, to be taught by 

Karen Paul Holmes at the John C. Campbell Folk School. If you live in one of the surrounding counties, you can get the class at half price. One-on-one coaching is her speciality. The focus of this class is YOU, your ideas and time for you to actually get some writing done, complete the project you want to finish, or start the new project you have been putting off. The class begins Sunday May 3, 2015. Register now. Call for more info. 1 800 Folkschool, (828) 837 2775 or 365 5724  
Photo of Ms Holmes under the Poet Tree at the Folk School.

Here is the class description:

Just Write
A prompt a day will keep you writing away…or bring your own ideas and finally have time to write what you've been itching to write. We'll dig into a magic bag of inspiration including nature walks, music, and favorite poems or passages by favorite writers. Self-editing tips and one-on-one coaching will help make your pieces stronger. Ideal for poetry, memoir, or short-fiction writers of all levels.

Hugs and happy spring,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Author Steve Harvey will Speak Saturday in Hayesville.

Nonfiction Author Dr. Steven Harvey will Speak in Hayesville

Saturday, March 28, 4:30 p.m. Joe’s Coffee House and Trading Post, in Hayesville, NC will host Dr. Steven Harvey, author and University Professor, who will talk about his new memoir, The Book of Knowledge and Wonder, a memoir about coming to terms with the suicide of his mother when he was a young boy. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

The book was published by Ovenbird Books as part of the “Judith Kitchen Select” series. A section of the memoir appeared in The Best American Essays 2013 selected by Cheryl Strayed. He is also the author of three books of personal essays. A Geometry of Lilies, Lost in Translation, and Bound for Shady Grove and edited an anthology of essays written by men on middle age called In a Dark Wood. 

He is a professor emeritus of English and creative writing at Young Harris College, a member of the nonfiction faculty in the Ashland University MFA program in creative writing, and a senior editor for River Teeth magazine. He is the creator of The Humble Essayist, a website designed to promote literary nonfiction. 

He lives in the north Georgia mountains. You can learn more about Steve and his work at his web site: .

This program is sponsored by Writers Circle around the Table. Contact Glenda Beall, 828-389-4441 for more information.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Dear Poets,

This is a special, intimate workshop--perfect for those of you who would especially like to write and share in a small group. It will be limited to thirteen participants and although we'll focus on poetry, it will be an inspiring gathering for all writers who want to pay close attention to language.

The Blue Mountains are a stunningly beautiful location--an ideal environment for inspiration and creativity.

If this sounds like the time and space for writing that you need, please join us!

Ellen BASS

A Writing New Poems Workshop
July 5-10, 2015
Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC

In 1968 the great poet Muriel Rukeyser wrote, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?/ The world would split open.” This week all of us—men and women—will journey into that world of truth-telling.

But it isn't so easy to tell the truth. Not only do we need courage, but we need craft. As another great writer, Willa Cather said, "Only the artist . . . knows how difficult it is." And so we will study the craft together, reading model poems by contemporary poets and discussing central topics, such as the concept of discovery, image and metaphor, sentiment and sentimentality, and the power of sensory detail. We will engage our greatest resources—attention, precision, imagination—to bring our own new poems into being. We’ll strive for language that is accurate, fresh, and alive and we’ll learn strategies to help us write poems whose form, music, rhythm, diction, and meaning work together as a powerful whole.

With the inspiration of this gathering, expect to surprise yourself in making poems that are more vivid, more true, more beautiful and complex than you’ve ever written before. Both experienced and beginning poets are welcome, as are teachers of poetry. And because rich, textured, evocative language is the province of all writers, this workshop will be applicable to writers of fiction and memoir as well.

Levels: All
Class Size Limit: 13
Tuition: $795

For more information, email Norma Hendrix at

Registration is now open for this workshop.
Please Note: Because The World Split Open workshop is limited in size, the registration, cancellation, and refund policies are different from other workshops at Cullowhee Mountain Arts. Registration must be accompanied by a 50% deposit when you register. Your full balance is due April 1, 2015. Registrations made after April 1, 2015 must be accompanied by payment in full. If you cancel before April 1, 2015 your payment will be refunded, minus your deposit. If you need to cancel for any reason after April 1, your payment will be refunded only if we can fill your space with someone from the wait list. Please let us know as soon as possible if you can’t come so we have the best chance of filling your space with another poet who would like to attend.

Cullowhee Mountain ARTS Office: 598 W. Main, Sylva, NC 28734 828.342.6913

Copyright © 2015 Ellen Bass, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you are subscribed to Ellen's email list. 

Our mailing address is:
Ellen Bass
c/o Jen Petras
249 West Park Boulevard
Medina, OH 44256

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Becoming Part of the Story of Appalachia
A special announcement from Young Harris College:

Many people do not realize that Georgia has wild, beautiful mountains that are home to a rich legacy of Appalachian culture.  Young Harris College will celebrate Appalachian culture, particularly the spoken word tradition, during the first annual Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival to be held on the college campus April 10-11, 2015.  

The Festival will feature some of the brightest stars in storytelling, including Lloyd Arneach, Lyn Ford, Hannah Harvey, Andy Offutt Irwin, Bil Lepp, Minton Sparks, Cayce Terrell, Tom Lawrence, Jr., and Sweet Sunny South. Listeners of all ages will learn about the fascinating cultural history of Appalachia through storytelling and have the opportunity to become part of its preservation. Performances by  featured tellers will enrich and educate listeners.  Workshops taught by the tellers will enable festival-goers to claim their own voices and become storytellers themselves. The Festival will bring all of us a little closer together by showing that, as individuals and families, we share many of the same dreams, the same aspirations, the same stories.
To learn more about the event, purchase tickets, or make an online donation, go to
You can also find us under Georgia Mountain Storytelling Festival on Facebook. Feel free to contact us at or 706-379-5115


Getting Back to the Basics of English Grammar 
 Paula Canup, writer, journalist and former English teacher, will present a workshop on
Saturday, March 7, 2015, at Writers’ Circle. 
Fee: $25
Phone: 828-389-4441
To register, mail check to:
 Writers Circle
581 Chatuge Lane
Hayesville, NC 28904 
Deadline for registration: March 3
Did you sleep through grammar class? Or was it so long ago you’ve forgotten most of what you learned?
This class is for all writers who want to submit polished work for consideration by agents, editors and publishers. It would also be good for those who find they need to brush up on writing skills for their job. We all make errors in grammar, punctuation and word usage. For some, writing dialogue is especially tricky.  Where do we place quotation marks? Does a question mark go inside or outside the quotation marks? These and many other questions about basic grammar will be addressed in this class.
Paula Canup is a former middle school English teacher who has also worked as a tutor in English grammar. 
After retiring from teaching, Paula wrote articles for a regional magazine, Southern Distinction. She later wrote regular columns for two local newspapers, The Leader in Oconee County, GA, and, locally, The Sentinel.  She worked for a year as a staff writer for the Clay County Progress
Paula still enjoys writing non-fiction and memoirs, though she currently focuses on painting as her means of artistic expression.  She and her husband moved to Hayesville, NC from Athens, GA, in 2008, and now live on the side of a mountain where they enjoy the natural beauty of “God’s Country.”
Glenda Council Beall

Monday, February 16, 2015

HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR by Glenda Beall click here if you want to know how to be a successful author. Also learn about writing workshops in the western NC and north Georgia mountains.   


Where are our young poets, fiction writers and creative nonfiction writers studying these days? Some are enrolled at Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia near the state line between Georgia and North Carolina, at the former 2 year college that for over 100 years was often number one in the nation and in recent years became a four year college with a strong English Department. 

The big news is these young students are competing among other young writers, three of them having just been named finalist in the 2015 Agnes Scott Creative Competition. 

Three YHC Students Become Finalists in Prestigious Writing Competition
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Three Young Harris College Students Become Finalists in Prestigious Writing Competition
Three Young Harris College students are achieving success in YHC’s blossoming creative writing program. English majors Alison Missler, a senior from Maysville, Emma Jones, a junior from East Ellijay, and Sarah Boudreau, a sophomore from Cumming, were recently selected as nonfiction finalists in the 44th Annual Agnes Scott Writer’s Festival Contest. Representing three out of only five finalists, YHC’s showing in the contest is nothing short of impressive.
“It’s extremely difficult to become a finalist in the Agnes Scott Writers’ Festival Contest,” said Director of the Creative Writing Program and Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing Chelsea Rathburn. “The competition is open to graduate and undergraduate students across the state of Georgia, and Alison, Emma, and Sarah’s work was read alongside that of writers in Ph.D. programs. This is a huge accomplishment.”
YHC creative writing students are encouraged to submit their best work to various publications and contests throughout the year. The Agnes Scott Writers’ Festival Contest is a statewide writing competition for colleges and universities in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The finalists’ works are published in the festival’s magazine, and prestigious visiting writers select the prizewinners in each genre.
“YHC has given me many opportunities to have my work published both locally and statewide including the College’s Corn Creek Review and the Agnes Scott Writing Festival Contest,” said Jones. “The creative writing program’s workshops give me a chance to get feedback which is very helpful if you are aiming to have your work published.”
Beginning with an introductory course that covers multiple genres of writing in their sophomore year, creative writing students participate in writing workshops in their areas of interest. By their senior year, students will have honed in on a specific type of writing or genre.
“The workshop is at the heart of any creative writing program,” said Rathburn. “What sets YHC apart, though, is our small class sizes which allow for one-on-one mentoring from faculty. Our curriculum has been carefully designed to offer students both rigor and the flexibility to pursue their passions.”
The program has gracefully completed the transition from a track-based appendage of the English major to becoming its own fully fledged major at YHC. While current senior English majors could not enjoy all four years of the new program, many can attest to the impact these courses have had on their education.
“I look back at my poems from two years ago and I feel like I was a completely different writer,” said Missler, who is also a finalist in the fiction genre category of the Agnes Scott Writers’ Festival Contest. “The English department is continually growing stronger. It’s a wonderful feeling to be a senior and recognize how I’ve grown over the past four years and still see so much potential for the future.”
The major has expanded the number of creative writing classes at YHC while continuing to offer students a strong foundation in literature. Students study the form and theory of poetry or narrative, participate in advanced workshops, and complete an extended creative project their senior year.
“My classes have been fantastic and my professors have helped me engage with and think critically about the material,” said Boudreau. “I’m taking some really interesting courses this semester that make me excited to get up and go to class every day.”
According to Rathburn, the goal of YHC’s creative writing program is to provide an ideal curriculum that prepares students for writing, publishing and various other career opportunities following graduation. Having spent a number of years in the marketing and communications field, Rathburn anticipates a growing demand for quality writers.
“Many of my clients were thrilled to know that I had a strong background in creative writing,” said Rathburn. “From writing for websites, press releases, advertising, and editing magazines or books to attending graduate school or writing the next ‘Great American Novel,’ our creative writing majors can pursue many career opportunities.”
Prizewinners of each category will be announced during the Agnes Scott Writer’s Festival Contest and receive $500 dollars. Finalists will be given the opportunity to read their pieces during the Festival, which takes place in March.
“I can’t say enough how proud I am of Sarah, Emma and Alison,” said Rathburn. “They are all incredible writers and very deserving of this honor.” 

YHC English majors Sarah Boudreau, Emma Jones and Alison Missler were selected as finalists in the Agnes Scott Writer's Festival Contest. They are seen here with Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing Chelsea Rathburn.

Saturday, February 7, 2015



Wild Things

Yellow-headed step-children, 
Persistent and wild, taking,
Taking orders from no one, uninvited
Each year appearing in the garden,
Blooming and sending out
Fluffy and white balls of seed
My children will wish on.
Each year more numerous
Than the year before,
Bringing friends with you,
Filling the garden of neat green
With dots of yellow.
Our ancestors did not call you weeds.
You gave them wine, coffee, and greens
And they called you dandelions. 


How does a sea creature know how?
    Who teaches a scallop to furl?
    Why does a sand dollar grow flat,
And conchs grow their homes in tight whirls?
     Oysters and clams have dull colors
    And coquinas grow rainbow arrays.
     Wondrous things along the seashore
   Never cease to amaze.
When we go looking for seashells,
    do we wonder where it all began?
Creatures so different and intricate,
    All taken for granted by man.

And She Laughed
"Caretakers of the world,
    unite, revolt," I said.
She laughed, my mother,
    Caretaker of my years.
She was dying, and she laughed.
    "You need to put the tablemats
Away at night," she had said.
  She couldn't control the cancer,
So she worried about small things.
    And she laughed.

Orange and Purple Sunset

How does God find the time each day
To paint the sky in bright array?
I'm traveling early morning roads
When the palette in the sky explodes.
It never ceases to amaze
To watch the sky become ablaze
As sunrise lifts o'er mountain haze
And colors come in streaks and rays.
It's times like these--cool, crisp, and clear--
I see his work, and God is near. 

The poems above by Kit Borden were first published in Out of Our Hearts and Minds, Poetry and Prose by the Transylvania Writers' Alliance (2006).

About the Poet:
Catherine (Kit) Townsend Borden was born in Charleston, South Carolina, but now lives with her husband David in Transylvania County with magnificent views of the mountains. However, Charleston and the sea still hold a special place in her heart, as do the beauty and friendships she finds while traveling in Mexico. She has taught all ages from preschoolers to adults, but children are her favorites, and she has written a number of stories for them. Kit also participates in fundraisers to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research, riding along on her scooter for fifty mile walks. She also used sales from the Transylvania Writers' Alliance's 2006 anthology to add additional moneys to that research. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Our Fellow NC Writers' Netwest Writer Barbara Steelman Groce has Died

Sad as my heart is tonight hearing the news of Barbara's passing, I find I can only face this loss as she would want me to --by celebrating her life and more than that, by celebrating her gift for poetry. 

I first met Barbara Groce at Coffee With the Poets in Hayesville,  NC. One  week later she took my poetry writing class at John C. Campbell Folk School. I will always remember how she breezed in each day, dressed as if at a special event, always with a smile, always writing poems from the heart. In the photo below, I remember I asked her if she planned her outfit to match the silk flowers on our table. I was impressed with Barbara's poems and celebrated her poems and featured her on my poetry blog three different times. In March 2013 she was featured as Poet of the Month. (To read three posts about Barbara and her poems, click on the http addresses below.) 

 Barbara Groce at another  poetry class at John C. Campbell Folk School.

To read more about Barbara Steelman Groce and her Poetry, see posts from Nancy Simpson's LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE BLOG BELOW. 


Four Poems Meet Appalachian Poet May 2010

Below, written by her family.

Barbara Groce, 82, passed away in her home, February 2, 2015, 2015 following a brief illness.  She is survived by her husband Bill, three children, Hal of Charlotte, NC, Marti and Clark of Woodstock, GA, along with six grandchildren, Hal and Sherri’s children Erin and Zachary of Charlotte, Clark and Stacy’s children, Megan, Claire, Caroline of Asheville and Woodstock and Marti’s daughter Gabbi of Woodstock.  She is also survived by sister, Susan Webb, Stantonsburg, NC, and two brothers, Robert of Danville, PA and Harold of Holly Springs, NC. 
Born in St. Charles, a small coal mining community in western Virginia, Barbara moved to Kinston, North Carolina at age nine.   She graduated from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and earned a Master’s in Education from Eastern Carolina University.  Barbara taught in the North Carolina Public School System.  She met her husband Bill in Charlotte, NC where their three children were born.  Barbara retired from teaching with the birth of their first child.  Barbara held a lifelong love of art, particularly hand crafted items.   She built a successful business making wooden ornaments when they moved to Asheville, NC.  She and friends started a successful handcraft business and opened a cross stitch shop in Charlotte.  Upon moving to Atlanta in 1983, Barbara turned her energy to North Fulton Community Charities where she was a regular, working in the intake section.

Upon moving to the North Georgia Mountains in 2007, she turned to poetry as an outlet for the childhood and lifetime memories pressing for release.  Although she had never written, she poured her energy into learning.  She attended a number of classes and workshops, including the annual Writer’s Conference sponsored by the Blue Ridge Arts Center.  Numerous area, regional and national poets shared generously to mentor her. Barbara is a member of the Georgia Poetry Society, North Carolina Writers Network, the Kentucky State Poetry Society, the Shallow Enders and her local church poetry group.  

Barbara’s poems have been published in Pegasus, journal of the Kentucky State Poetry Society, Reach of Song, 2011, annual publication of the Georgia Poetry Society, Wild Goose Poetry Review, Spring 2011 and local newspapers.  She has won awards from the Kentucky State Poetry Society (2009, 2010, 2011) and the Illinois State Poetry Society (2010).  She published two Chapbooks, Appalachian Girl and Christmas Legends and in 2012 Cardinal House Publishing released a comprehensive collection of her poems entitled the Dancing Years.

Despite success building handcraft businesses and a late life poetry career, Barbara’s priority was her family, particularly her grandchildren.  She has left a strong legacy.  Her poetry reflects her character and values and will reinforce her influence through generations.   
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages contributions to the Blue Ridge Mountains Art Association, Writers Conference.  Checks should be made to BRMAA with Barbara Groce on the memo line.  The Art Center will know to direct the funds to benefit the Writer’s Conference.  The mailing address is 420 W. Main St., Blue Ridge, GA 30513.

Please leave a comment. Comments will be shared with Barbara's family.


photo by Sylvia Freeman

ON  FEB 2, 2015, poet Shelby Dean Stephenson, born June 14, 1938, was honored and inducted as  North Carolina's new Poet Laureate by Governor Pat McCrory at the NC State Capitol Building in Raleigh with a huge crowd looking on.  

Former Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti said "Stephenson was born to be NC Poet Laureate. He truly is the voice of North Carolina."

"There could be no one more representative of North Carolina , no one more open hearted or more lyrical than Shelby Stephenson" said UNC Chapel Hill Professor and poet Paul Jones.  "Who else could charm both governors and poets alike?"

Born: June 14, 1938, in Johnston County near the town of Benson
Family: Married Linda Letchworth Wilson in 1966 and they have two children
Education: B.A., UNC-Chapel Hill, 1960; M.A., University of Pittsburgh, 1967; Ph.D, University of Wisconsin, 1974
Career: English department chair at Campbell College, 1974-1978; English professor at UNC-Pembroke and editor of Pembroke magazine, 1978 until his retirement in 2010
Awards include: 2001 North Carolina Award for Literature, 2004-2005 North Carolina Poetry Society Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet, 2014 induction into NC Literary Hall of Fame
Published works include: “Plankhouse” (1993), “Possum” (2004), “Finch’s Mask” (1990) and “The Persimmon Tree Carol” (2002), as well as four albums of music.

Monday, February 2, 2015

WOMAN IN THE MIRROR, poem by Glenda Beall

Here is a poem for women, spoken by a woman. Click to read it. 
Click to read

Glenda Beall, author of NOW MIGHT AS WELL BE THEN.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

NC Writers' Network West Announces New Meeting Place for Coffee With the Poets

New Venue for Coffee with the Poets and Writers - 
Clay County, NC

Coffee with the Poets and Writers has met at Blue 
Mountain Restaurant in  Murphy for the past two 
years. Beginning in March, 2015, this event will 
meet at Joe's Trading Post and Coffee Shop, 
32 Main Street, Hayesville, NC. Joe Powell is owner
of the coffee shop. We met at this location when it 
was  Cafe Touche and run by Liz. The seating is 
different now and probably will be better for our 
group. This event is open to  the public and everyone 
is invited to read a couple of  poems or a prose piece 
of around 1,000 words.

The only food sold at Joe's will be his fine varied 
brands of coffee, soft drinks, tea and a few snack 
items. He will be open to  the public while we meet. 
Please pass this change on to anyone who would 
like to join us on the second Wednesday of each 
month at 10:30 a.m.

We are pleased that Coffee with the Poets, sponsored by
NCWN West, was founded in 2007 and has continued with a
loyal following ever since.

We will NOT MEET in January or February.
well-known man of many talents from Brasstown, NC.
To learn more about reading at Coffee with the 
Poets and Writers contact 
Glenda Beall, 
or call 828-389-4441.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Doris Betts Fiction Prize Deadline Feb 15, 2015

Although this is a poetry site  , if you also write  in the short story genre, here is  a call for  submissions to the Doris Betts Fiction Prize.
January 10, 2015

Dear Nancy:
The 2015 Doris Betts Fiction Prize is now open for submissions. The Doris Betts Fiction Prize awards the first-place winner $250 and publication in the North Carolina Literary Review. Finalists will also be considered for publication in the NCLR.
The competition is for previously unpublished short stories up to 6,000 words. The Doris Betts Fiction Prize is open to any writer who is a legal resident of North Carolina or a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. North Carolina Literary Review subscribers with North Carolina connections (lives or has lived in NC) are also eligible.
For over twenty years, East Carolina University and the North Carolina Literary & Historical Association have published the North Carolina Literary Review, a journal devoted to showcasing the Tar Heel State’s literary excellence. Described by one critic as “everything you ever wanted out of a literary publication but never dared to demand,” the NCLR has won numerous awards and citations.
The final judge is NCLR fiction editor Liza Wieland. She the author of seven books and three collections of short fiction. She has won two Pushcart Prizes, the Michigan Literary Fiction Prize, a Bridport Prize in the UK, and fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, The North Carolina Arts Council, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. She has recently been awarded a second fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council.
Laura Herbst of Pittsboro won the 2014 Doris Betts Fiction Prize for her story, “The Cliffs of Mobenga.” Two finalists from the 2014 competition were invited to revise and resubmit their stories for publication consideration: “World Without End” by Taylor Brown of Wilmington and “Big Joy Family” by Jude Whelchel of Asheville.
Doris Betts was the author of three short story collections and six novels. She won three Sir Walter Raleigh awards, the Southern Book Award, the North Carolina Award for Literature, the John Dos Passos Prize, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Medal for the short story, among others. Beloved by her students, she was named the University of North Carolina Alumni Distinguished Professor of English in 1980. She was a 2004 inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.
Here are the guidelines for the 2015 Doris Betts Fiction Prize. The deadline is February 15:
The competition is open to any writer who is a legal resident of North Carolina or a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. North Carolina Literary Review subscribers with North Carolina connections (lives or has lived in NC) are also eligible.
The competition is for previously unpublished short stories up to 6,000 words. One entry per writer. No novel excerpts. Stories do NOT have to relate to NCLR’s annual special feature topic.
Submit previously unpublished stories online at Submittable will collect your entry fee via credit card ($10 NCWN members or NCLR subscribers / $20 for non-members/non-subscribers).
To pay submission fees by check or money order, make payable to the North Carolina Writers Network and mail to: Ed Southern, PO Box 21591, Winston-Salem, NC 27120- 1591
Documents must be Microsoft Word or .rtf files. Author's name should not appear on manuscripts. Instead, include a separate cover sheet with name, address, phone number, e-mail address, word count, and manuscript title. (If submitting online, do not include a cover sheet with your document; Submittable will collect and record your name and contact information.) If you have any problems submitting electronically, email NCLR's Submission Manager.
The winner and finalists will be announced in April. The winning story and select finalists will be published in the next year’s issue of the North Carolina Literary Review.
Questions may be directed to Margaret Bauer, Editor of the North Carolina Literary Review, at
The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to writers at all stages of development. For additional information, visit
Copyright 2015

(If you are a practicing writer, I hope you will consider joining NCWN now. If you join and if you live in the western NC mountains, within certain counties, you automatically become also a member of NCWN West.--Nancy Simpson)

The North Carolina Writers' Network | | North Carolina Writers' Network | North Carolina Writers' Network PO Box 21591 | Winston-Salem, NC 27120

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Death of JUDITH KITCHEN the Literary Author, Editor, Writing Instructor and Literary Critic 1941-2014

From the Los Angeles Times
Jan 4, 2014
by David Ulin

Remembering author, teacher and critic Judith Kitchen
Creative Non fiction essayist and teacher Judith Kitchen, who died last week of cancer at the age of 73.
BY DAVID L. ULIN, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
November 11, 2014, 4:30 p.m.
I only met Judith Kitchen once. It’s my loss. Kitchen, who died last week at 73 of cancer, was a rare spirit, both on the page and in the world. Teacher, essayist, critic, she and her husband and partner Stan Rubin ran the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., where I spent a couple of days last year visiting.
She was also the author of a novel, a collection of poetry and four books of nonfiction, including the luminous “The Circus Train,” which came out at the beginning of this year. The title piece, novella-length, is one of the most astonishing extended essays I’ve read. Moving back and forth through memories, invoking her literary hero Samuel Beckett, it is a meditation on mortality and meaning from the edge of the abyss.
“Here’s what I want: to stitch it all together,” she writes. “Give it the dilated eye of attention. To make it add up. But of course it doesn’t add up, no more than any other life. We take from the box of photos those that lead, one to another. We leave behind the singular, solitary moments that go nowhere except into, and out of, themselves.”
Do we need to say that the miracle of this passage is that she isn’t writing about death exactly, but rather life? Or, more accurately, about meaning, about the way we are always stitching it together all the time? This was the subject of her 2012 book “Half in Shade: Family, Photography, and Fate,” which uses family photos as a hinge for an interior investigation — into love, doubt, family and time. “This is not art,” she writes there. “This is the black and white of birthdays and summer vacations. Grandma’s Sunday best.”
Not art, no, but time, but living, but the bits and pieces by which we have no choice but to define ourselves. Kitchen lived it as she wrote it, asking questions, keeping focus, working until the end. Over the summer, she came up in conversation at a dinner party; “She’s dying,” a friend said, “but I’ve never known anyone so alive.”
It’s true: Even from a distance, Kitchen redefined death for me, or at least, how we might face death with courage and with grace. This is not to say she wasn’t frightened; “[W]ill thinking be my solace, or my curse?” she wonders in “The Circus Train.” “I have relied on the brain — its tickings and tockings — for an entire lifetime. Can I trust it to take me easily into death, or will it resist, fighting the body until the bitter end?”
I think about these questions also, but for me, they remain (for the moment, anyway) abstract. Kitchen was not writing with that luxury. She was fierce and she was loving — and she was rigorous, with no one so much as with herself. I want to say that she was kind (she was certainly kind to me), but kindness seems too soft for her intensity.
“Visual artists have ‘statements,’” she once wrote, “in order to articulate something of what they do instinctively. But a writer’s medium is words, and if the writer has anything to say, it’s best said obliquely. Understated. So let me call up a visual image for what I want my work to be doing: there’s a juggler in the park, wearing a red hat, and he’s tossing a knife, an orange, and three purple balls into the air, deftly catching them, passing them under his legs or behind his back, twirling and catching, then, balancing a stick with one spinning ball on the tip of his forehead, he holds the knife blade-side-up so that when the orange falls it is sliced cleanly into two equal halves which he catches in both hands and holds up to the light.”

From  AWP Association of Writers and Writing Programs Nov. 18, 2014

Judith Kitchen Has Died
November 18, 2014
photo by William Stafford

Judith Kitchen—a novelist, poet, essayist, critic, editor, and teacher—died of cancer at age 73 in early November. She was at her home in Port Townsend, Washington, with her husband, Stan Sanvel Rubin, with whom Kitchen co-directed the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.
In an obituary for the late author, Los Angeles Times book critic David Ulin called her last book of nonfiction, The Circus Train, “one of the most astonishing extended essays I’ve read,” and described one cited passage as a “miracle” in its bold-eyed description of mortality.
“Even from a distance, Kitchen redefined death for me, or at least, how we might face death with courage and grace,” Ulin wrote. “This is not to say she wasn’t frightened; ‘[W]ill thinking be my solace, or my curse?’ she wonders in The Circus Train. ‘I have relied on the brain—its ticking and tockings—for an entire lifetime. Can I trust it to take me easily into death, or will it resist, fighting the body until the bitter end?’”
Kitchen authored several books, including, most recently, The Circus Train (2014); Half in Shade (2012), a book of nonfiction; The House on Eccles Road (2002), a novel, which received the S. Mariella Gable Prize in Fiction from Graywolf Press; and Distance and Direction (2002), a collection of essays. She also received two Pushcart Prizes, the Lillian Fairchild Award, the Anhinga Prize for Poetry, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
In addition to teaching in the Rainier Writing Workshop, Kitchen served as advisory and contributing editor of the Georgia Review, where her regular poetry reviews were published, and on the Artists Advisory Board for the New York Foundation for the Arts. She served as a nonfiction reviewer for Water~Stone Review (see Water~Stone’s executive editor Mary Rockcastle’s obituary for Kitchen), and edited a number of anthologies, including, most recently, The Poets Guide to the Birds (2009), which she co-edited with former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.
“Judith Kitchen… delivered good deeds and good works far and wide, as a writer, as an editor, as a teacher, and as a model citizen of high-minded literary living and giving,” said AWP’s executive director David Fenza. “She was one of our better angels.”
For its upcoming May/Summer issue, the Writer’s Chronicle magazine will publish an interview with Judith Kitchen.
Works by Judith Kitchen

Perennials (Poetry Series) Poetry  Collection by Judith Kitchen, Anhinga Press
UNDERSTANDING (Contemporty American Literature) WILLIAM STAFFORD by Judith Kitchen, U of S C Press

The House on Eccles Road Novel by Judith Kitchen Gray Wolf Press
Only the Dance: Essays on Time and Memory Non Fiction by Judith Kitchen, U of SC Press
Half In Shade: Family, Photography, and Fate Non Fiction by Judith Kitchen, Coffee House Press
Distance & Direction Non Fiction Essays by Judith Kitchen, Coffee House Press
The Circus Train (Ovenbird Books) (Volume 1) Non Fiction by Judith Kitchen

The Poets Guide To The Birds (Editor) Judith Kitchen

As Editor and Publisher of State Street Press, Judith Kitchen published 76 chapbooks, 2 pamphlets, 5 full length poetry collections, and one anthology. 
As reviewer for The Georgia Review, she left some 750 pages of book reviews in print. The Georgia Review has named her as one or two leading poetry critics in the US and one in five  in the English speaking world.